Today's Piano Puzzler
This week's contestant is a nervous Tony Villecco from New York, NY. It's a charming little piece, and the song should be completely gettable. I also was able to correctly guess the composer, so that strikes me as meaning that it's quite solvable, as well.
From the Management
It has come to my attention, after getting around to check my Amazon Affiliates report, that some fine and kindly people here have actually bought products on Amazon after first clicking the Amazon link to the right (or on the main Elisberg Industries page).
To explain, for those who missed the seminar, people who click those those links get taken directly to Amazon, the same as if they'd gone there directly, and anything they purchase during that session allows for a very small commission to be returned to this website. So...thank you. Much.
I would especially like to thank the person who bought the deluxe cabin cruiser. I only wish you hadn't had second thoughts about getting the boat and then returned it. To anyone wondering, yes, the stipend has to be returned...
Always on Sunday, on Sunday
One of the iconic film performances of the early 1960s was Melina Mercouri's Academy-nominated role of the good-hearted prostitute Illya, in Never On Sunday. (Arguably even more popular than the film, which was successful, was the title song which became a huge hit.)
In 1968, the move got adapted into a Broadway musical, renamed Illya Darling. Totally unlike most musicals adapted from movies (if not all...), the stage show got major attention because Melina Mercouri re-created her starring role. (As I noted in an earlier post, Anthony Quinn also re-created his famous role of Zorba, in the stage musical version of Kander and Ebb's musical version, but that was for the revival, so I draw a slight difference. Oddly, both for were for Greek-related stories. The only other case I'm aware of is Julie Andrews doing both the film and stage musical versions of Victor, Victoria. There may be others, but I'm drawing a blank at the moment. And Mercouri, as far as I know, was the first.)
The stage show for Illya Darling was also directed by the 1960 film's director, Jules Dassin. And the music was by Manos Hadjidakis, who had written the score to the film -- something which had the added benefit of the stage show being able to incorporate the famous title song into it. The lyrics were by Joe Darion, who was most famous for having written Man of La Mancha three years earlier.
Illya Darling didn't get especially good reviews, but had a respectable run of 320 performance, clearly on the strength of Mercouri's performance.
Here are 8-1/2 minutes from the show, from an appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show. It's sort of an odd choice. For the first half of it, Melina Mercouri -- pretty much the reason people went to see the show -- does literally nothing but sit and watch others dance and sing around her. Then she does at last get to perform -- but it's to dance only, no singing. (Having heard the cast album, she's not the strongest singer, but she carries her songs well). Finally, when they break into that famous title song, she does at last sing, which they save for around the seven-minute mark. Still, it's a quite entertaining clip and wonderful piece of history -- even if it was an offbeat way to promote the show.
In the Mick of Time
My friend Mick Garris, who I've written about often here, is an accomplished writer and director. Most of his work has been in the field of horror (in fact, he's in several SciFi and Horror Hall of Fames), though not all. He wrote and directed a Disney Sunday Movie, Fuzzbucket, and director a very good courtroom drama for NBC that starred Chris Noth.
But mainly it's been horror, with a lot of collaborations with Stephen King, most notably directing the ABC mini-series of The Stand and that network's TV remake of The Shining. Most recently, he directed Pierce Brosnan in the four-hour A&E mini-series of Stephen King's book, Bag of Bones. He also created the Showtimes series, Master of Horror.
(And perhaps his most proud "credit" is being the son-in-law of Louis Zamperini, the subject of the massive best-seller, Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand, and upcoming feature film, for which Mick serves as executive producer and which is being released this Christmas.)
But he's also been an accomplished interviewer for years. And by years, I mean going back as far as when there was the Z Channel (anyone remember them?!) and lots in between, up to now when he's been host of the show, Post Mortem, on the SyFy Channel.
I mention this all because Mick has now started up a Facebook page which has links to many of his favorite video interviews. It includes pieces with the legendary Roger Corman (from 1979), John Badham (director of War Games, among others), John Carpenter, Joe Dante (of Gremlins) and many others. As well as some other enjoyable tidbits, like a behind-the-scenes documentary Mick himself did about the making of Gremlins.
If such things interest you, here's the link.
News from Lake Wobegon
It was a quiet week, and as the summer archives continue. Powerful storms roll into Lake Wobegon, Luanne Peterson copes with the arrival of a new patient in the pediatric intensive care unit, and a story to comfort Luanne when she breaks down under an overpass during the storm, in a monologue from June 2012.
Food, Glorious Food
Today, gourmands, we are talking about cream cheese. The question that often comes up when the subj...
Wait, hold on. Cream cheese?? Yes, you read that correctly -- cream cheese.
The other day, I was at my local Ralphs grocery store (not to be confused with Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery on the News from Lake Wobegon, a point Garrison Keillor often jokes about when he brings A Prairie Home Companion to Los Angeles) and wandering through the deli section came across what looked like a new product. It was a Kroger house brand called “Greek cream cheese & Greek yogurt”.
I don't get cream cheese all that often -- in part because it's high in fat and in part because...well, unless you've got you some lox, it's pretty bland. When I do need cream cheese on occasion, I'll generally get non-fat cream cheese, and the best brands like Knudsen are passable, though they all tend to be a bit gummy (and lesser brands can be chalky). Low-fat cream cheese is tasty, though not terribly low-fat. (As you may have noticed at this point, I try to eat low-fat.) I decided to buy a package of the Kroger Greek because I was intrigued -- I know that Greek yogurt has a slightly thicker texture and richer flavor. And because this said it was lower fat, although not seemingly as low as low-fat cream cheese. And it was also on sale, which...okay, that helped, too…
A couple things, one of which is odd.
The fist thing, which is non-odd, is that It tastes almost exactly like cream cheese, but is less bland, seeming to have a little richer flavor, and has a slightly thicker texture (though not much).
But the odd thing is that, as you can see from the package above, it says that the product is "Half the fat of cream cheese” – but it’s not. It’s actually better than that. It’s actually less than one-third of the fat! I checked packages of cream cheese in the case which all said 10 grams of fat. Light cream cheeses were 4.5 grams of fat. And this is only 3 grams of fat. Why on earth they “under-promote” themselves, I have no idea. My best guess is perhaps studies show that people will think it won’t taste good if it’s too “low fat.” Or maybe they can’t do the math.
The very low-fat is a big deal for me personally. But the operative issue for most people is point #1 -- it tastes very good. I don't mean "very good" compared to lower-fat cream cheeses. I mean, very good for cream cheese, period. At the very least, it tastes and has the texture almost exactly like whole milk cream cheese. The only reason I say "almost" is because...I think the little difference tastes better. It's cream cheese with a slight richness. At a third the fat. (And 60 calories, compared to 100 for regular, and 70 for low-fat.).
I read online that the product is now in 2,400 stores nationwide. Whether that true or not is only for the Food Gods to know. But if there's a Kroger near you -- or a chain owned by the Kroger company, like Ralphs -- it's worth checking out for the cream cheese lovers among you. Me, I've found myself even spreading it on crackers occasionally for a snack. Since it actually has a slight flavor.
We now return you to your regularly scheduled bagel.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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